Lifewatch: New vision test

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - Enfant is a new vision screening test that is designed to study a child's eyesight as early as 9-months by watching TV.

Electrodes are placed on a child's head, the lights go off, and cartoons appear, but varying images of lines are constantly interrupting the cartoon.

The test analyzes how the eyes and brain perceive those lines, a passing grade is given if the test doesn't detect any difference between the two eyes.

If there is a difference found, it could ben an early indicator of amblyopia, or lazy eye, which can cause blindness if left untreated.

Dr. Scott Spies uses the machine at his pediatric practice in Matthews, North Carolina.

"These kids are treated at an earlier age than the past, they can avoid surgery and permanent loss of vision," said Spies.

The test only takes 10 minutes.  If a child fails it, they are sent to a pediatric ophthalmologist.

"It's very important in children to diagnose visual problems early," said Ophthalmologist Dr. Paul Rychwalski.

Enfant takes the squirm out of traditional eye exams, but doctors aren't dismissing the eye chart just yet.

"There are other devices that look at, for example, the alignment of the eyes or whether there's something blocking light coming into the eyes like a scar on the cornea or a cataract," said Rychwalski.

Most insurance companies will pay for the test, but for those who are not covered, out-of-pocket costs range from $125 - $250.